- Executive Council of the African Union has approved that no African region should be allowed to sign the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) with the European Union "as long as the draft agreement is not submitted and discussed at the continental level."
The council believed that the signing of any interim or complete EPAs will affect other regions in Africa, recommended "the need for a political intervention at the highest level to protect the interest of African countries."
According to the council, Africa has got the opportunity to explain to EU political leaders about its concerns over the partnership negotiation process during the scheduled meetings in Egypt and Portugal.
African Heads of State are expected to decide on the council's report at a continental summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Africa and EU have deadlocked over the signing of a new trade partnership which was supposed to be signed on or before
31 December 2007. So far, no country or region has signed a complete new trade agreement with EU, despite mounting pressures on some African countries.
The four African region members of the ACP, who complained of uncertain legal framework and trade system, refused to sign the deal.
The AU council blamed European firms operating in Africa for being the fire behind some pressures concerning the signing of the deal. It said, "the pressure put on some countries to sign interim or complete agreements was aimed at ensuring that the other developing countries would not loose their markets. It was also intended to keep unemployment from worsening."
The said firms thought this would ensure regular supply of raw materials to their Europe based plants.
Senegalese President, Abdoulaye Wade, has been vocal against the signing of EPAs, resulting to protest over the issue in the the capital Dakar in recent times.
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